“There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South… Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow… Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave… Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A civilization gone with the wind…”
The opening title cards of “Gone With the Wind” always make me nostalgic for a time in which I never lived. While this story was only fiction, it shared a glimpse of the South as it really was in that time — grounded on tradition, beauty and charm — before the destruction of the Civil War. (Although, it doesn’t quite portray the horrors of what they were fighting for — slavery — which reminds me how grateful I am to be in the 21st century). Despite watching the movie dozens of times growing up, I read the book for the very first time when I was 15 years old. Mitchell’s words came to life in a way I could never have imagined. I knew I had to visit the place where it all began, the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. My dad, knowing the “Gone With the Wind” junkie that I was at 15 — and still am — agreed to plan a trip.
After arriving in Atlanta, my one and only mission was to visit the museum. As we approached the property, we were greeted by a white sign posted on the column of the home that read “Margaret Mitchell House – Birthplace of Gone With the Wind.” The ruddy, red brick of the house exterior complemented three tiers of charming white balconies that lined the front of the house, which was converted into apartments in 1919, we read. Apartment No. 1 is where Mitchell and her husband lived from 1925 to 1932, and more notably where Mitchell famously penned the majority of the 1,037-page novel on her Underwood typewriter.
We entered the first room of Mitchell’s three-room apartment, bright with natural light; my first thought was that it was much smaller than I had anticipated. Mitchell seemed to feel similarly; upon entering the house, one sign noted that she affectionately nicknamed the space “The Dump” because of its small space and “basement shabbiness.” The main room was quaint and comfortable. There in the corner sat Mitchell’s most precious piece of furniture: her desk, along with the typewriter that laid on top. The desk seemed exceptionally tiny, with room only for the typewriter, a few scraps of paper and a cup of coffee, but perhaps that’s all a writer really needs.
As we navigated through the rest of the museum beyond apartment No. 1, more “Gone With the Wind” props, photos and other items were scattered throughout the house. The iconic, life-size painting of Scarlett O’Hara in her royal blue gown hung on a wall on the first floor. My mind immediately pictured the scene in the movie where the portrait hung in Rhett’s bedroom in their Atlanta mansion. Swoon.
Various photos and artwork from the movie set and film lined the walls. Arguably my favorite photo, though, was a black and white shot of Clark Gable (who starred as Rhett Butler) and Margaret Mitchell. Gable grinned from ear to ear. My heart fluttered. What “Gone With the Wind” fan wasn’t in love with Rhett Butler?
I quickly woke up from my “Gone With the Wind” fantasy and realized we were nearing the end of the museum tour. I left with a tin film poster from the gift shop of one of my favorite scenes from the movie in hand. My visit was undoubtedly a memorable experience, but until I travel back to the 1860s, I’ll never truly have my “Gone With the Wind” fill.